I think it is fair to say that India has come a long way. A recent survey suggested that 53% of the Indian population favours same-sex marriage. But if there is one institution propagating infinite hate, that is social media. And if you look at it you will feel entirely different. India is going back to the old days.
Why is this sentence so relevant today? Is it because a gay person is again afraid of admitting he is gay? Is it because someone who has come out of the closet is so scared of current political conditions that he wants to crawl back inside, and sob for an eternity? But is it the old days or were the old days comparatively different? That is what we will address in this article.
We have come a long way from colonization to the trans movement to the decriminalization of same-sex marriage in court. But sadly, it is still limited to the court.
The upper class, the creamy layer of society itself isn’t very comfy with homosexuality. They will support the rights of people in public but when it comes to their close ones or family, they're all the same.
They're the educated ones. This isn't okay. In light of recent events, let’s unveil the history of the Indian LGBTQ+ Movement.
Why read the story backwards?
To know something well, you have to start at the beginning. There are ideas in the current societal critique of the LGBTQIA+ movement that argues from an extremely historical point of view.
But not to just argue, but to understand the point of this movement, the need of this movement, the achievements and the failures of this movement, the relevance of this movement today, tomorrow, and yesterday, you need to know the history of this movement.
Further, it is also important to push back against homophobic bigots who claim that ‘humare time mein ye sab nahi hota tha gay lesbian, ye sab to western propaganda hai’. It is important to answer this person that history is written by bigots, straight people in power. And if you look closely, you will find numerous people of the community in Indian History.
Eras of the Indian Pride History
This is my way of dividing Indian Pride History:
India before colonization was big on acceptance. They have always had a diverse view of gender and sexuality. Today, when we are seeing that a majority of things that are deemed to be Western discoveries, were discovered by us first. We have been the pioneers of science and specifically biology. Hindu mythology, for example, contains stories that feature queer characters and fluid gender identities, such as the deity Ardhanarishvara, who embodies both male and female aspects. The Kama Sutra, an ancient text on sexuality, recognizes different forms of desire and relationships.
Colonization came to India like a plague. It forced its Western ideologies like hatred, segregation, bigotry, and homophobia into India. The British colonial era introduced Victorian moral values, including the criminalization of same-sex relations. In 1861, the British colonial government enacted Section 377, a law that criminalized "carnal intercourse against the order of nature," which was used to target LGBTQ individuals.
I think when the country is crippled in the economy, burning in hatred, and dying of not having the freedom to exist, sexuality takes a back seat. So, even though the rights of the Indian Queer Community were taken by colonizers, they started the movement to reclaim rights in the late 20th Century. In the 1980s, organizations like the Humsafar Trust and Naz Foundation were formed to address LGBTQ rights and provide support. These groups played crucial roles in advocating for decriminalization and raising awareness about LGBTQ issues in India.
The era of the 2000s
A lot was happening in the 2000s for Indian Social Movements. This is where the LGBTQ+ movement gained momentum and fought for its rights. The trans movement in India was able to get recognition in Indian Legal Paperwork to get options in addition to Male/Female binaries. In 2018, in a tremendous and beautiful verdict, Supreme Court decriminalized same-sex relations. A win is a win. Now, we are fighting for legal marriage recognition of same-sex marriages. But I know that this history is going to have one more aspect.
The Era of Propaganda and Erasure
History isn’t just what you read in books or on the internet. We are living in history. History in the making. The way the Indian Pride Movement is facing backlash way worse than before is frankly sad and disgusting. While we have much better supporters and helpers, Indian society is battling the war of church v/s state. In short, people are led to believe that what their religion believes in, will define how many human rights anyone will get. This is not just affecting the pride movement, but the feminist movement, caste movement, and other social movements related to marginalized sections of society. Check out this beautiful article on the history of the Indian Pride Movement: https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/lgbtq-a-timeline-of-india-s-lgbtq-movement-and-struggle-against-section-377_-255429.html
Major Achievements of the Indian LGBTQ+ Movement
It happened on August 11, 1992. In response to police action against a few individuals from Central Park in Connaught Place on suspicion of homosexuality, the first known protest for gay rights in India took place just outside the police headquarters in Delhi's ITO district. The AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) organized the protests.
And since then, we haven’t stopped the battle. Click here for a brief account of Indian Pride Achievements.
What does the movement expect today?
Why hate? Why project your insecurities about not being enough as a straight male, and attack someone’s happiness? Why do you think being Gay is a new concept? If Indian history has taught us anything, you are living in a colonial hangover. Get over it. Educate yourself. Read, Listen, Understand, Listen to Understand not argue back. Stop bringing religion into every human rights post. Religion also said Brahmins are superior to other castes and women are second-grade citizens. Religion is never totally correct.
Hell, you don’t even know your religion. Your religion asks you to respect trans people. Do not call them ‘chakka’ or ‘abnormal’. Learn it. Love. Love will triumph.
Here is an article I found which can help you reconsider the conditions of Indian Queer Folk and the way you should choose ahead: https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/lgbtqia-rights-and-acceptance-in-india
Also, read Shourya’s views on Religion and Queerness: https://www.theredmegaphone.com/post/the-divine-dilemma-religion-s-stance-on-queerness